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My very last blog entry was about a terrible tractor trailer wreck in Bartow
County, Georgia, that occurred on December 19th. Unfortunately, it appears
that the Christmas season tragedies were not yet over for Bartow County.
Incredibly, Bartow County troopers were called to the scene of yet another
tractor trailer wreck on December 21st. This time, two people were killed.

A mother and her little 4-year-old girl were killed in yet another wreck
involving a tractor trailer driving along I-75. Some people might say
that a lawyer handling truck accident lawsuits ought to be hardened to
tragedies like this after twenty years of practice, but I think you would
have to be a mighty cold and heartless person not to feel just sick over
this tragic accident.

According to the press releases from the
Georgia Department of Public Safety, Maria Tabuena, who was just 29 years old, was riding northbound on I-75
near Exit 293. It was early afternoon, 1:25 p.m., and Tabuena had her
4-year-old daughter, Melina Trichell with her. Tabuena was driving a 1998
Ford Expedition early on Friday afternoon, in the right-hand lane on I-75.

As Tabuena rolled down the highway, a tractor trailer that was riding beside
the Expedition in the middle lane. The tractor trailer suddenly tried
to change lanes, moving from the middle lane into the lane in which Tabuena
was driving. When the tractor trailer edged over into Tabuena’s
lane, the right side of the truck smacked into the left side of Tabuena’s
1998 Ford Expedition and essentially knocked her off the road. When the
tractor trailer hit the side of Tabuena’s car, the wallop forced
her car off the road and into a guardrail. Tabuena’s Expedition
then ran into an overhead sign support post and burst into flames.

Worse, the accident was a hit and run. The driver of the tractor trailer
never stopped. Witnesses told the Georgia State Patrol that the tractor
trailer that hit Tabuena was “a late 90’s ‘long-nose’
Peterbilt tractor” that was “very dirty” and maroon
in color, and that it was “pulling a silver trailer with damage
to the right side.”

What tragedies both of these wrecks were! I hope for Tabuena’s family’s
sake that the State Patrol is able to find the tractor trailer that hit
her Expedition. The State will be looking to charge the tractor trailer
driver for fleeing the scene of the accident, as well as for the erratic
driving that led to the crash. Additionally, tractor trailers are required
to carry insurance in Georgia, and at a bare minimum the family of Maria
Tabuena and Melina Trichell ought to get the insurance money – which
of course cannot happen if the truck is never found and the insurance
company is never known. As of the 21st, however, the State Patrol put
out another request for the public’s help in finding the tractor
trailer. When 11Alive did an update story on December 24th, the tractor-trailer
still had not been found.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the husband and father who had to bury
both his wife and daughter at Christmastime. And again, I want to say
thank you to the state troopers and the EMTs and emergency personnel who
put their own feelings and emotions aside to work yet another tragic wreck
during this Christmas season.


Lee’s peers have named her a Georgia SuperLawyer every year for two decades.